Prince Charles has spoken for the first time about why he intervened to stop the Chelsea Barracks planning application, saying he thought the designs were ‘insane’
In a magazine interview, the Prince of Wales said he wanted to make a stand to prevent London’s built environment being ‘mucked about with’.
Developers Qatari Diar Real Estate withdrew their planning application for the prestigious site after the prince wrote to the chairman, the prime minister of Qatar, saying that his ‘heart sank’ when he saw the designs drawn up by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.
In an interview for Vanity Fair magazine published on Friday Charles said: ‘I’d seen some of the plans and I thought ‘this seems insane’.
‘I just wrote a letter - a confidential letter to somebody I happen to know. I didn’t do anything in public.
‘It only came into play when they, for some reason or other, leaked my letter. Anyway, it produced the desired effect, in that it revealed that an awful lot of people are concerned.’
The letter was the prince’s most outspoken criticism since he described a proposed extension for the National Gallery as ‘a monstrous carbuncle’ 26 years ago, which resulted in the plan being changed.
Charles is well known as a champion of traditional architectural styles over modernist designs and has tried to implement his ideas in his model village Poundbury in Dorset.
In the 600-word letter the prince also attached an alternative neo-Georgian scheme by Quinlan Terry, his favourite architect.
The 5.2-hectare Chelsea Barracks site is in one of London’s most expensive residential areas and was sold by the Ministry of Defence for £959 million to Qatari Diar and its then partners in the scheme, the CPC group.
Following the withdrawal of the planning application the CPC group launched a High Court action earlier this year to get an early payment of £68.5 million after the scheme’s collapse, but the legal bid failed.
During the hearing, Charles’ letter to the Qatari prime minister was made public and High Court judge Mr Justice Vos, who heard the case, described Charles’ intervention as ‘unexpected and unwelcome’.
Full interview here.
Prince Charles slams barracks design - again